Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Quebec Shows the Way to Fight Child Poverty

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Quebec Shows the Way to Fight Child Poverty

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Quebec shows the way to fight child poverty

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published June 24:

It's disturbing, but sadly not surprising that a study released last week found that federal ridings with the most child poverty in Canada are also home to the highest proportion of Indigenous, visible minority, immigrant and single-parent families.

They range from rural ridings such as Manitoba's Churchill-Keewatinook Aski, which has an alarming child poverty rate of 64 per cent, to urban ridings like Toronto Centre, where it stands at 40 per cent.

What was surprising in the study by Campaign 2000, though, is that nine of the 10 ridings in Canada with the lowest child poverty rates were in Quebec. In those ridings the rate ranged from 4.1 to 6.6 per cent. That's not an anomaly. Last year a Statistics Canada study found that though Quebec has the second-lowest household income in the the country, it also has the second-lowest rate of child poverty.

Why should that be?

According to Statistics Canada it's because the province has chosen to invest generously in two proven poverty busters: universal day care and the most generous provincial child benefits in the country.

Ottawa has a chance to emulate the Quebec model by making universal day care and increased child benefits part of its Poverty Reduction Strategy, due out in the next few weeks. It should.

The programs would cost a lot of money up-front. But in addition to achieving the laudable goal of reducing child and family poverty, they would generate substantial savings and economic benefits for everyone.

Implementing both programs, for example, could save the public $72 billion to $85 billion that Campaign 2000 says is currently spent each year on services associated with child poverty, such as urgent health care, shelter costs and the criminal justice system.

And simply creating a universal child care system would result in an immediate boost to the economy and an increase in tax revenues. …

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